Consumer responsibility

Dick SearleOK, I know. The phrase probably does sound a little funny doesn’t it? After all, our ears have been attuned to decades of consumer choice and purchasing power – but consumer responsibility?

Over the last twenty years or more those of us at the industry/environmental interface have certainly been more used to hearing the slogan of producer responsibility. The producer of any goods has been identified and taxed as the one with entire responsibility – from cradle to grave; or cradle to cradle. The consumer – or user? Not in the equation.

But as our world grows up we realise that it really takes two to tango. Without buyers – no sellers. Without consumers – no consumption and no producers.

It is now surely time to include consumers in the whole picture and stop treating them as passive bystanders. It is also time for consumers to assert themselves and stop seeing themselves as victims without responsibility. If ever our society recently needed a reminder of this mindset – we got it; in the shape of the looting that took place in some UK cities in August of this year.

Clearly our view of both consumption, production and unlimited growth clearly has to change.

Trouble is, it’s not just the disaffected youth who are sleep walking through a dream of unlimited consumption: It’s often said to me, for example, that no vote-seeking politician could ever dream of going to the hustings and offering voters less than more; more jobs; more growth; more money; more consumption.

Instead, and all too often, weak politicians who are unable to face this fact and make some real changes find it much easier to find something or someone to blame. A totemic red herring – such as packaging –  will usually do.

So let me say it again – and again. Packaging – delivery systems for society’s products – is not the problem. Unlimited consumption, population growth, limited resources, litter,  human and social behaviours – these are problems that require mature and balanced reasoning and social leadership. And that, as they say, is another story.

Just to finish up that here – with this new blog at the Packaging Federation – we are looking forward to sharing some home truths,  some reality checks and viewpoints. We hope that you find it amusing, surprising, challenging, interesting.

As ever, a picture tells a thousand words – and a video even more so. Take a look at this clip – it very much shares what I wanted to say here.

Thanks again

Dick Searle